Recipes to the rescue!

Barbara Wilson

Getting enough calcium in the diet is vital, not only to protect our bones and teeth, but also for the efficient running of an assortment of body functions.

And with the range of low fat calcium-rich foods now available, there have never been so many ways to increase your calcium intake without ruining that diet.

Skimmed milk has been on the shelves for some time now but this has recently been joined by a host of other low fat or fat free dairy products. Among our favourites are Total 0% fat Greek yoghurt and Danone Vitalinea 0% fat fromage frais. With only 100 cals and less than 0.3g of fat per serving, these are a great way to get extra calcium without the calories!

Fat free yoghurt and probiotic drinks can also help us reach that recommendation of 3 or 4 portions of dairy produce each day.

Drinking plenty of water has many health benefits – from improving kidney function to helping keep skin clear, but did you know that mineral water is an excellent source of calcium?

The calcium content of mineral water ranges from just below 40mg per litre to 130mg per litre – that’s almost 20% of the recommended daily requirement of 700mg for men and women of 19-50 years.

Other high-calcium foods include bread, canned fish, fortified orange juice, leafy green vegetables, fennel, nuts and seeds. Taking a calcium-rich food at every meal helps your body absorb this vital nutrient. But if you’re stuck for ideas on how to reach this goal, these ideas might give you some inspiration!

· Fortified breakfast cereal with skimmed milk and enriched orange juice is a calcium-rich breakfast

· Low fat cheese, tinned sardines (with bones) or baked beans on toast are all high in calcium

· Snack on fat free or low fat yoghurt, fromage frais or Greek yoghurt during the day

· A small handful of mixed nuts with dried fruit is another great snack

· Enjoy leafy green veggies with your evening meal and include beans and pulses

· Fat free Greek yoghurt or fromage frais mixed with fruit is a calci-yummy dessert!

These recipes all use calcium-rich ingredients!

Prawn open sandwich

Mix together 4 tbs fat free Greek yoghurt, a tbs tomato puree, freshly ground black pepper and a dash of Tabasco or hot pepper sauce. Add 200g prawns, fresh or frozen and thawed, and mix well. Serve with lemon quarters, mixed salad and brown bread.

Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition Information: 160 calories, 3g fat, 19g carbs and 150mg calcium (2 Units) per serving.

Pork and veggie stir-fry

Spray a large non-stick frying pan or wok with cooking spray and add 250g lean pork, cut into bite-sized pieces. Cook over a medium-high heat for a few minutes, stirring well. Add 2 crushed cloves of garlic and an inch of grated root ginger and cook for another few minutes. Feel free to add other spices and flavourings such as Chinese 5 Spice at this stage.

Stir in a sliced red pepper, a head of broccoli, cut into small florets, 150g tinned and drained chickpeas, a tbs sherry vinegar and a tsp sesame oil. Add a little water if necessary and add 200g spinach. Cover with a lid and cook for a few more minutes until the spinach is wilted and the pork is cooked through. Serve with boiled rice or noodles.

The pork can be replaced here with chicken, beef or tofu.

Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition Information: 215 calories, 9g fat, 12g carbs and 150mg calcium (3 Units) per serving.

Apricot mousse

In a small saucepan, cover 250g ready-to-eat apricots with around 200ml water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

Sprinkle a sachet of gelatine (11g) over 3 tbs water and leave to soak for a few minutes. Put this bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the gelatine has dissolved. This can be done in the microwave. Set aside to cool.

In a food processor or blender, blend together the apricots with their cooking liquid, a large tub (500g) of fat free fromage frais, the juice of an orange and the juice of half a lemon. Pour this smooth mixture into a bowl and gradually add in the gelatine, mixing well. Pour into a serving bowl and chill until set.

Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition Information: 185 calories, 0.6g fat, 32g carbs and 160mg calcium (2 Units) per serving.

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